Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah sits at over 10,000 feet above seal level and looks down into a half-mile deep geologic amphitheater. Due to its elevation, winter has a major impact on the park. Snow drifts and ice have already accumulated on most park roads to the point where it is unsafe for vehicle traffic. While running water, the fee booth and visitor center are shut down for the winter season, there is some good news. Cedar Breaks Scenic Drive will be transformed into a marked and groomed snowmobile route and the rest of the park will be a winter playground for those on snowshoes and skis. Don’t forget your coat! Photo by Zach Schierl, National Park Service.

A radiant view from Water Canyon in Northern Nevada leaves a lasting impression. Anyone who drives through Winnemucca on I-80 would never guess that this little oasis is hiding just south of town. While cold temps have burned off the color, the Great Basin offers gorgeous contrast between the sage and desert with the small hidden patches of water-loving aspen and willow. Photographer Bob Wick shot this photo in October and shares his love for the remote area, “Maybe what I like most about a spot like this is that it is not a National Park, Wilderness Area or other nationally recognized "crown jewel.” It’s just one of the many “non-labeled (but very special) hidden places that can be found on America’s public lands.” Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management.

Since it’s not officially winter yet, we can post all the autumn shots we want to, right? The peaceful palette of a forest in fall colors comes and goes so quickly that we cherish scenes like this one at Prince William Forest Park in Virginia. Preserving about 15,000 acres of gorgeous piedmont forest, Prince William Forest Park remains a treasured spot near our nation’s capital and the third largest park system unit in Virginia. It’s a great place to explore any time of year, but the fall foliage is show-stoppingly beautiful. Photo by Erica Wales (www.sharetheexperience.org).

A rock carried away by the churning Colorado River. Flecks of dirt scattered by the winds. Erosion and gravity doing their work with patient deliberation. Cutting and carving the land over the course of 6 million years, revealing rocks formed and buried over 1.8 billion year ago. Visiting Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona is about appreciating time as much as size. Looking across its vast expanse and down into its deep channels, everyone starts to imagine the process and are quickly overwhelmed by the sense of the time it took to create this natural wonder. Photo by National Park Service.

Seven new national parks in Alaska were established on this day in 1980. The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act extended varying degrees of protection to over 157 million acres of public lands, doubling the size of the national park system. From ice-covered peaks to turquoise fjords, countless glaciers, forests, tundra, rivers and wildlife were added to the state’s conservation jewels. A lifetime of exploring and a heart the size of Denali are not enough to fully appreciate the wonders found on these lands and waters. Photo of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve by Jacob W. Frank, National Park Service.

Travel to the northern-most point of Kaua‘i and the Main Hawaiian Islands and you’ll be met with a paradise known as Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. When Anne Readel photographed this shot in March, red-footed boobies circled the skies around the setting sun, she described it as a “truly magical place”. Gorgeous views from the 568-foot ocean bluff, incredible wildlife watching and mesmerizing waves crashing below – a trip to Hawaii could be the perfect goal for the next year. What is your dream #usinterior destination? Photo courtesy of Anne Readel.

Half a year away

Once you’re done with Thanksgiving leftovers, try getting out and exploring. We recommend a morning hike at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. Earlier in November, photographer Claire Codling captured this gorgeous moment. “The sun rose slowly over Thor’s Hammer, turning the hoodoos a glowing orange and red. The early morning mist and golden sky gave a real magical feel to the morning.” Photo courtesy of Claire Codling.

It’s time to bundle up and take that walk in the woods. Crunchy leaves underfoot, a golden canopy overhead – paths like this one at Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota can be found throughout much of the country right now. Surrounded by loved ones or escaping for a few solitary moments, America’s public lands provide incredible places to walk off the holiday stress and delicious meals. Photo of a gorgeous fall scene at Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge by LuGene Peterson. 

Happy Thanksgiving! Among the many things we’re thankful for, America’s public lands are near the top of the list. From sea to shining sea, we’re grateful for gorgeous mountains, pristine waters, enchanting forests, sublime deserts, fascinating history, wonderful wildlife and endless opportunities for recreation and connecting with the outdoors. From everyone on Interior’s hardworking team, have a safe and fun Thanksgiving. Photo from Yellowstone National Park by Jacob W. Frank, National Park Service.